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With Great Reverence and Respect, Thank You

Soka Gakkai Buddha—Members at the SGI-USA Los Angeles Friendship Center, Los Angeles, April 2024. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

To our wonderful SGI-USA members,

This week marks the conclusion of the ninth May Commemorative Contribution activity since I undertook the privilege of serving our members as the SGI-USA General Director.

Each time, I am ceaselessly amazed by our members’ selflessness, steadfastness and warm hearts—even in these times that continue to be uncertain, economically and in many other ways.

When I started my Buddhist practice about 40 years ago, there was no May Contribution effort. It was something we initiated a bit more than 20 years ago.

Since then, your amazing support has helped rebuild the SGI-USA by: purchasing and leasing new centers in places that didn’t have one; expanding existing centers; building our translation, study and periodicals team; strengthening our IT and data security capabilities to better serve you; and advancing our Buddhability social media platform for American youth. The list is endless.

It brings to mind these words of Nichiren Daishonin: 

Rice is what sustains life. It is like the oil that sustains the life of the lamp. The Lotus Sutra is a lamp, and its votary is the oil that sustains it. Or again, the lay supporters are the oil that sustains the lamp of the votary. (“King Rinda,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 983)

Every single one of you—our precious SGI-USA members—are truly the “oil that sustains the lamp” of our kosen-rufu movement in America.

Ikeda Sensei recalled, “[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda once spoke to me of the profound significance of the Soka Gakkai’s mission, asserting that in the sutras of the future, the Soka Gakkai’s name would be recorded as ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha’” (June 16, 2006, World Tribune, p. 2).

And we find in Nichiren’s writings the passage “Could there ever be a more wonderful story than your own?” (“Letter to the Brothers,” WND-1, 499).

It therefore follows that the tales of members contributing so generously to kosen-rufu in America will be regarded—hundreds or even thousands of years from now—with the same exact reverence and respect that we have for the woman who cut off her hair to offer Shakyamuni an oil lamp or the wealthy man Sudatta who built a monastery for the Buddha.

SGI-USA members are every bit as wondrous as they were.

Thank you, thank you.

With utmost appreciation,

Adin Strauss
SGI-USA General Director

June 7, 2024, World Tribune, p. 10

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